Ever since Viacom and CBS completed their re-merger last year, there’s been speculation as to what exactly will be done with CBS All Access, the streaming service featuring CBS programming and also such original shows as “The Good Fight,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” and “Star Trek: Picard.”
ViacomCBS indicated in May that a revamp of the streaming service was on the way, as CEO Bob Bakish said on the company’s first quarter earnings call that “we’re accelerating our plans for an expanded subscription service, building off CBS All Access, with major changes coming this summer, as we track towards the rebrand and relaunch of a transformed product.” The company also, at the time, announced plans for an international rollout, and revealed an agreement with Google to add ViacomCBS’ channels to YouTube TV.
On Thursday, the company revealed the first big part of that revamp, announcing the addition of 3,500 TV episodes from Viacom-owned channels, including BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Smithsonian Channel. In addition, the company is giving All Access a total of more than 20,000 TV episodes and movies. Also different is the user interface which, like Disney+, will feature central hubs for ViacomCBS brands.
The company described the change as “a major step toward transforming CBS All Access into a diversified super service for the company,” and its change into a “diversified super-service.” This is done through the upcoming “rebranding” —presumably including a new name—arriving in early 2021. The price will not change, at least not now.
Also announced was “Kamp Koral,” a new “Spongebob Squarepants” series that will arrive on the service in 2021, along with exclusive streaming rights to this year’s movie “The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run.”
“Today marks the beginning of an exciting evolution of CBS All Access into the subscription streaming home for ViacomCBS and a preview of what’s to come,” Marc DeBevoise, Chief Digital Officer, ViacomCBS and President & Chief Executive Officer, ViacomCBS Digital, said as part of the announcement. “As the first Network to market with a branded direct-to-consumer service more than five years ago, we have the advantage and experience of building it from the ground up, establishing distribution points across all major platforms, creating a service with high user engagement and low churn, and crafting a robust slate of exclusive originals from which we continue to build.”
The company will announce second quarter earnings August 6.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.